Workers at Republic beat the rigged game

A victory here, a victory there….

In a small but still significant victory, the unionized workers of Republic Windows & Doors along with their allies forced Bank of America and other creditors to fund a severance package. According to an AP report:

With cheers and chants that echoed President-elect Barack Obama's campaign of change, jubilant workers agreed to a $1.75 million settlement that ends their six-day occupation of a shuttered Chicago factory that became a symbol of the plight of labor nationwide.

Republic Windows & Doors, union leaders and Bank of America reached the deal Wednesday evening. Each former Republic employee will get eight weeks' salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months' paid health care, said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who helped broker the deal. He said it works out to about $7,000 apiece.

Observing the conflict from the left, Lee Sustar notes that:

What began as a resolute act of some 250 workers quickly became a national symbol of working-class resistance in a crisis-bound economy. Hundreds upon hundreds of union members and officials — not only from Chicago, but around the Midwest — came to the Republic factory to express their solidarity and bring donations of food and badly needed funds.

But support for the Republic struggle went beyond the ranks of organized labor. The fightback crystallized mass anger about the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Even though Bank of America — Republic's main creditor — is in line receive $25 billion in taxpayer money, the bank refused to finance the 60 days' pay due to workers under the WARN Act if a plant closes without the two-month notice required under the law.

James Pethokoukis of US News and World Report considers the settlement alarming. Where will it end? The plebes using the institutions of a liberal-democratic polity to force capital to observe its agreements — this is very scary!

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